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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Finding 21st Century High-Potential Employees

Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” Scientific studies suggest that hiring in the right people will maximize the company’s returns. It has long been understood that a small proportion of the workforce tends to drive a large proportion of the results. Talented employees are “force multipliers”, raising the performance bar for their colleagues, and their direct reports. By word and deed, they model and teach winning behaviors that shape high-performing cultures. Science reveals that regardless of the job or industry, such individuals tend to share a range of measurable qualities, which can be identified fairly early in the process. The 21st century workforce needs these 3 qualities to succeed and thrive.

1) Demonstrate Ability To Do the Job: Can the person demonstrate the knowledge and skill it takes to perform the key tasks that make up the job. The single-best predictor of future job success is the proven ability to perform those job skills in the past.  Have the person provide a work sample or observe the candidate actually performing the tasks that make up the job. For more complex leadership jobs, the question shifts to how likely an individual is to be able to learn and master the requisite knowledge and skill. Learning ability, typically measured by IQ, includes a substantial cognitive component but also the motivation to pick up new knowledge and skills fast and flexibly. Strategic thinking, vision, creativity and imagination, as well as an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to adapt an organization for the long-term future.
2) Possess Emotional Intelligence: This involve two fundamental abilities: the emotional intelligence ability to manage oneself and the ability to manage others. Employees likely to succeed in leadership roles, and more complex jobs are first able to manage themselves. Can they calmly handle increased pressure, deal constructively with adversity, and act with dignity and integrity. Secondly, they have the social and emotional intelligence to establish and maintain cooperative working relationships, build a broad network of contacts and form alliances, and be influential and persuasive. Emotional intelligence can be assessed by psychometric tests and further refined through training and development.
3) Possesses Drive and Resilience: it is the will and motivation to work hard, achieve, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. This is identified as work ethic and ambition. This is the accelerator that multiplies the potential influence of ability and social skills on future success. Drive can be assessed by standardized tests that measure conscientiousness, achievement motivation, and ambition. Behaviorally it is how hard an individual works, willingness to take on extra duties and assignments, eagerness for more responsibility, and even readiness to sacrifice.
Common Sense Counsel: if you bet on those who Demonstrate an Ability To Do the Job, Possess Emotional Intelligence and Possesses Drive and Resilience you will end up with a higher proportion of future stars who will contribute disproportionately to the organization.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, and can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at

Friday, January 12, 2018

EMPLOYERS BEWARE, AND BE READY: How to prepare for an ICE raid

On Wednesday morning, officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement inspected nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the country, and arrested 21 employees for being illegally present in the United States. This is believed to be the Trump Administration’s largest immigration enforcement operation against an individual employer to date. The 7-Eleven raids and others are consistent with the Trump Administration’s announcement last October of its intention to increase significantly enforcement of the immigration laws in workplaces.

This week’s raids bring back memories of a March 6, 2007, ICE raid at Michael Bianco, Inc., a leather factory and government contractor in New Bedford, Massachusetts. As a result of that raid, 361 illegal workers were arrested and some were detained at a facility in Texas. Michael Bianco, the owner of the company, was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison, plus three years of supervised release. He was also required to pay a $30,000 fine for helping to harbor and conceal illegal immigrants.

This new policy of arrests and enforcement has produced results. There were nearly 30,000 more non-border ICE arrests during the first fiscal year of Trump's term, which ended on September 30, 2017, than during all of fiscal year 2016.

Common Sense Counsel: What does this new Trump policy mean for employers? For violations a civil penalties could reach $21,563 for each person illegally employed; and for violations of simple recordkeeping, civil penalties could reach $2,156 for each I-9 Form containing substantive violations or uncorrected technical violations. The best strategy for employers is to have their house in order before ICE shows up unexpectedly. The following steps are recommended:

1) Conduct periodic self-audits of your I-9s and practices, and review any deficiencies or corrective action with immigration counsel. Particular attention should be given to cases where concerns are raised about the legal status of the employee despite the I-9 documents presented by the employee.
2) Prepare yourself by having a procedure to follow if and when ICE agents arrive. The front desk personnel need to be trained about who is to be contacted, and they should know not to provide any other information to ICE. The employer’s procedure also should include who is to be the employer’s lead contact with ICE.
3) Know where your I-9s are maintained. Although employers have three business days to provide the I-9s, that time can pass quickly if the documents cannot be located or if the I-9s are in an off-site location.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, and can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Will Krasnow in the Constangy Boston office drafted this excellent update. Blog at

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Who Is Your CEO?

I want to highly recommend to my readers The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon, a book told as a business parable from the perspective of a manager (George) who is leading a team heading nowhere. His car breaks down so for two weeks he ends up riding a city bus with a positive motivation guru at the wheel and a group of “energy” converts as passengers. Over the two weeks as George rides the bus he learns lessons designed to help a leader transform a team by creating a positive vision and culture of energy. George is able to save his job and inspires his team by becoming its Chief Energy Officer (CEO) using these 10 Rules for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment!

Rule #1 “You’re the driver of your bus.” It’s all about personal responsibility. We are each responsible for the direction of our lives. And the direction of our lives is shaped by each day, each thought. If we are complacent in our lives we let others drive for us.
Rule #2 “Desire, Vision, and Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction.” You have to have a vision, have a compelling reason to keep you moving and the persistence to keep to it.
Rule #3 “Fuel Your Ride with Positive Energy.” Positive energy is the fuel that allows you to overcome the obstacles. Positive energy is high octane fuel and negative energy is gas from the bottom of last years can.
Rule #4 “Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead.” Associating with people who push you forward is one of the smartest things you can do. If the people you work with or associate with are stagnant, then you need to break free.
Rule #5 “Don’t waste your energy on those who do not get on the bus.” Do not take it personally, maybe they are meant to get on another bus.
Rule #6 “Post a sign that says no Energy Vampires allowed on your bus.” Let them know who ever is negative will be kicked off the bus or left at the station.
Rule #7 “Enthusiasm Attracts More Passengers and Energizes Them During the Ride.” In college sports it seems that the same teams are at or near the top year after year. Players recognize a good culture and want to be a part of it. The same can be said of work teams and companies. It’s not all about the money.
Rule #8 “Love Your Passengers.” You can’t fake it. In order to lead people or attract people to your cause you have to care for them. Love cannot be selfish. As a leader you must want the best for your team members. Back to sports: time and time again you see a team of superior athletes being beat by a team made up of individuals who would do anything for their team and teammates. The key is to cultivate that love with positive energy.
Rule #9 “Drive with Purpose.” Purpose is the ultimate fuel for our journey through life.
Rule #10 “Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride.” No one goes through life untested and the answer to these tests is positive energy, the kind of positive energy consisting of vision, trust, optimism, enthusiasm, purpose, and spirit that defines great leaders and their teams.
Common Sense Counsel: Ken Blanchard said it best in the forward to the book, "If you want to fuel your family, your career, your team, and your organization with spirit, read this book. Jon’s energy and advice will leap off the page and help you cultivate positive energy in everything you do and you will make the world a better place for your having been here.” Co-author of The One Minute Manager®; book endorsed by Dabo Swinney, Head Coach, Clemson University Football Team, Mark Richt, Head Coach, University of Miami Football Team, Mike Smith, Head Coach, The Atlanta Falcons, Doc Rivers, Head Coach, Boston Celtics and many others in business and industry. The Energy Bus is the perfect mandatory team read book for 2018!

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, and can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at Link to The Energy Bus Website

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

7 Leadership Lessons for 2018

Tomorrow is January 1, 2018, and you have the chance to reinvent yourself and your workplace to Make a Difference for Good.  Change is coming at an accelerated pace with over 25 industries going the way of the buggy whip manufacturers.  Leadership Lessons:

1)  Use Practical Wisdom - The Right Way to Do the Right Thing. That means to encourage individuals to focus on their own personal intelligence and integrity rather than simply navigating the rules and incentives established by others.
2)   Realize that every employee has a story. You never will know their story if you do not take time to ask and breaking bread many times helps break the ice. Working side by side is a great way to hear the employee’s story and until they believe you care you will learn very little. Listening is a learned trait of highly effective emotionally intelligent leaders.
3)   You will never know what needs fixing/changing/pivoting until you ask. The lesson that Goggle learned in Project Aristotle was that using engagement survey data allows you to learn what 5 characteristics make a great team that daily yields world changing results.  Artificial intelligence will invade most facets our business life in 2018, but the most important asset you will have access to is the collective creativity hidden in the brains of your employees. Some call it magic dust - to others it is discretionary effort.
4)  Saying “thank you” matters. The ability to express genuine appreciation is a top leadership trait. When you see good work - say it, and a handwritten note of appreciation will be kept by an employee for years. Know that unplanned acts of kindness, hospital visit, or unexpected gift card for over the top service make a difference to the morale of the entire team. This is just one trait of the 12 traits of an emotionally intelligent boss.
5)  Google learned in Project Oxygen that Great Bosses display 8 traits.  When Goggle surveyed its work team’s common traits emerged. The most encouraging lesson was that great bosses can be made not bought. Investing in Great Teams and Great Bosses training in 2018 could just be the magic dust you have been missing!
6)   Rewards should be personal. In every episode of Undercover Boss, the executive calls a few special employees to his or her office for an unveiling. At that time, the CEO makes sure to thank employees for their hard work and dedication to the company. The visit to the CEO’s office includes a reward tailored to the individual’s need, a goal they want to achieve, and examples include training and development, help with educational costs, financial needs. 
7)  Chart your course for 2018. A wise captain precisely navigates his course before leaving port. Great bosses set a clear vision, mission and manages by values posted for all to see. Taking time in the next 30 days to bring your entire crew together for this business saving exercise which has the potential to make 2018 your best year ever!

Common Sense Counsel.  Following these 7 Leadership Lessons will mean you won’t be caught with your own over supply of buggy whips in December 2018.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP offices in Opelika, AL He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at